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New blood flows into Compton city politics

Compton Mayor Aja Brown (11721)
Compton Mayor Aja Brown

The winds of political change have swept through Compton once again, and based on unofficial election results from Tuesday, Councilwoman Lillie Dobson was in danger of being toppled from office by newcomer Isaac Galvan, and neophyte Aja Brown has denied former mayor Omar Bradley an opportunity to retake the city’s top elected spot.

On Wednesday morning, all 29 precincts had been counted, but an estimated 900 provisional ballots remained uncounted.

In the mayor’s race, a little more than 6,500 of the city’s approximately 62,658 registered voters went to the polls. They voted 63 percent compared to 36 percent in favor of Brown.

Once the results become certified and approved by the City Council (this could happen at the next available meeting on June 18), Brown will take office July 1 as the second woman to head the Hub City. The first was Doris A. Davis, who in 1973 defeated incumbent and the city’s first Black mayor, Douglas Dollarhide.

Dollarhide was also the first African American mayor of a major town since California became part of the United States.

Davis, a businesswoman, served only one term.

Bradley, a Compton native, was first elected to office in 1991, when he defeated Pedro Pallan to become City Councilman for Compton’s first district.

Pallan was the first Latino in Compton to qualify for a runoff election.

Bradley would go on to serve two terms as mayor before suffering defeat at the hands of political newcomer Eric Perrodin in a bitter, hard-fought election in 2001. Residual bitterness from the campaign fueled many confrontations during subsequent Council meetings with Perrodin and Bradley supporters constantly confronting one another.

Bradley was also convicted of and then acquitted of charges of misappropriation of government funds, after he left office.

In the second district, a little in excess of 1,000 people cast ballots with 60 percent favoring Galvan versus 40 percent for Dobson. However, late Wednesday, Galvan was only about 200 votes ahead.

This election is the first time that Compton residents had the opportunity to vote in districts rather than at-large.

As a result, Galvan could become the first Latino elected to the City Council. He would take office at a time when the city now has a 65 percent Latino population.

In the essay “Going Back to Compton,” Stanford University history professor Albert Camarillo writes: “The Compton I knew as a small child was predominantly White except for the Mexican American barrio where I was born. However, by the time I finished middle school in 1963, the city was divided into the west side—overwhelmingly Black, and the East side, predominantly White. The small barrio was located on the boundary between these segregated sections of the city. The three faces of Compton–White, Brown, and Black that I came to know during the 1960s, are no more. Now there are two–Black and Brown.”

As he looks forward to taking office, Galvan is very cognizant of how he may become the first Latino councilman and at 26, also the youngest person ever elected to the Council.

“… Voters, at the end of the day, voted for change. African Americans voted for me; Latinos voted for me. I got elected as the best candidate,” said Galvan, tired and still coping with the enormity of his expected win the day after the election. He also acknowledged that he would not have been elected without the African American vote.

The councilman-elect said his first priorities are to look into ways to cut resident’s water rates—“we should not be paying higher water rates than the people in Beverly Hills.” He also wants to ensure that trees are trimmed, pot holes are filled, cracked streets are repaired, trash is picked up off city streets, and the prostitution on Long Beach Boulevard is addressed.

“I live three blocks from Long Beach Boulevard, and as I’m driving home (this morning) I am seeing couches along the side of the road,” said Galvan, who believes his exhortations to voters to “give him a chance” was a key part of why he won, along with the game plan drawn up by his political consultant.